Cameron’s double bluff on pensioner benefits.

Back in April of this year, David Cameron made an empassioned speech accusing Labour of lying about his position on benefits for pensioners, particularly the Winter Fuel Allowance, free television liscenses, pension credit and the free bus pass – he also pledged his full support for the policies!

We will keep the free television licence, we will keep the pension credit, we’ll keep the winter fuel allowance, we’ll keep the free bus pass. Those leaflets you have been getting from Labour, the letters you have been getting from Labour are pure and simple lies.

As far as I was aware, Cameron had not committed to these measures, but he didn’t say they’d be cut either (I didn’t expect him to, it’d be electoral suicide). However, on Sky News he gave an angry rant about “Labour’s lies”.

Now who couldn’t believe that, with all the anger, bluster and banging of the desk? Why surely it was obvious that Labour were wrong and Cameron really did care strongly about pensioners. The Labour lies had been exposed.

Fine, except we are not liars. The Telegraph reports today that the age at which the Winter Fuel Allowance can be claimed will be raised from 60 to 66. The Lib Dems are pushing for a higher age of 75, although this is unlikely to happen. In addition, the help received will be cut by £50 for the youngest qualifying and by £100 for the oldest.

And this all comes after Cameron made an empassioned promise to “keep what they [the future government] inherited?”

Whist I am aware that all too often payments are made to well off pensioners when they are more suited to the poorest (whom the policy was originally for, I might add). But surely it would be better to ensure that the payments are fair than to cut them altogether? The Winter Fuel Allowance has been vital for many pensioners who otherwise couldn’t heat their homes. And surely Cameron with his anger at Labour lies would protect it?

Of course I am expecting the usual parroted line about us “not understanding the scale of the deficit” and the “tough decisions” that have to be made. But there are ways of dealing with this that don’t involve cuts to one of the most vital benefits people depend on. Especially when the Tory leader has pledged to keep these very same benefits!

So how about an apology then? We weren’t lying, we expected this to happen. Maybe it’s time to heed the words of Neil Kinnock back in the Wilderness Years: “I warn you not to grow old” – very apt for now, I think.


If I had £550 million of government expenditure…

…you can bet your life that I would not be using it to promote my personal idea of idyllic family life in some sort of bizarre throwback to the 1950s. But then again, I am not a Tory.

Enough derision was poured on Cameron for promoting gimmicky crap such as this. I, as a committed feminist, athiest and lefty deplore such a gimmick on the following grounds:

1. The state has absolutely no right to dictate what it sees as the perfect family set up with economic gimmicks. People’s relationships and family set ups are not subject to favouritism or judgement by the tax system.

2. Surely the Tories can accept that this policy sends out a clear signal that marriage is better than any other type of relationship – even Cameron himself stated that he wanted to promote commitment “loud and proud.” This works on the assumption that marriage is the only form of commitment. I see that as highly judgemental.

3.In these times, surely there are far better things to direct government funding towards. This policy is frivolity we can ill afford.

Family policy should be directed at all of Britain’s families, not just the ones where the parents are married. The Tories are being a little bit elitist here in my opinion – does it really matter if the family unit is based on marriage or cohabitation? Surely the immediate concern is that the parents have stable jobs, a good quality of life and the children are getting the best education possible?

Try as I might, I cannot fathom how the Tory leader thinks that marriage needs to be promoted by the tax system. £550 million could be spent improving the lives of many, not just those who choose to be married. In fact, I believe that only 4 million married couples out of the 12.3 million marriages in the UK will actually benefit?

Commitment is so much more than an official ceremony, a ring, a legal agreement and tax breaks. But it shouldn’t be dictated by economic means.

Tory MP raises the expenses bar to stratospheric proportions

Just when we thought it was all over – the duck islands, the moat-cleaning, the gardening, the £400 for fixing a briefcase and second homes, the expenses issue rears itself again.

David Wilshire, otherwise known as that nasty piece of work who first tabled Section 28 into the Local Government Act of 1988 has been caught paying £100,000 in expenses to his own “company” – additionally, the company is offshore, has never audited any accounts and is unincorporated – the whole situation is stained with corruption.

A just falldown for the man who implemented a directly homophobic clause? Let’s just say I have no sympathy at all.

I’ve been quite tempted to log on to William Hill and place a bet on Wilshire being nudged towards resignation before the Sunday newspapers go to print. But I’m sure Cameron is working on his removal as I type this.

Well, Wilshire is 66 – what’s that Osbourne said about the retirement age recently? *

*thanks to @psbook for that one!

While we’re on apologies…

At the Conservative Party conference, a 15 year old girl stood up and asked Gordon Brown for an apology. An apology for the debt he has left her generation in.

Well, I’d rather like an apology for an entire generation of children that I was in that were left behind by the previous Tory government. The ones who had to pay for all their textbooks at school, and damn to you if you couldn’t afford them? I won’t get one.

Oh, and how about a “sorry” for the desecrated towns and cities? Namely Gateshead Quays?

And how about an apology to all Londoners who are constantly being told that they paid too much for travel under Ken and now too little under Mayor Boris?

I’m waiting…

Tories: Tough on Duncan, not Hannan.

So, after developing his political career at the Boris Johnson school of self-promotion (with passes in ill-informed ranting and appearing on Have I Got News For You), Alan Duncan has decided to leave his Cabinet position and take voluntary (?) demotion.

Seen as there’s no comment from Duncan, and vague “he made a terrible mistake but I didn’t sack him” comment from Cameron – so there’s no evidence to suggest that there’s been a forced demotion. The decision was taken after a meeting with Cameron earlier in the day.

I’m no flag-waver for Alan Duncan and I couldn’t care less if he leaves the Shadow Cabinet. But what I cannot fathom is why, in a tale of two Tories making scandalous comments about topics that have inflamed public anger, Duncan is the only one who’s come off badly. Hannan’s comments were equally offensive, if not more so in my personal opinion.

Duncan believes himself to be a “lightening conductor” for public anger. I can understand that there was considerable anger at his remarks and rightly so. Yes, they were ill informed and highly offensive. But there is a huge difference between making stupid remarks and trashing the NHS abroad – which Dan Hannan was doing around the time Duncan made his comments! Does anyone see the same condemnation of Hannan or even a “meeting” resulting in a later demotion? Oh hang on, Hannan was promoted!

Both of the incidents with Hannan and Duncan were damaging enough to the Tories – but in my opinion, Hannan’s NHS trash-talking of the NHS was offensive to more than just the public – it undermined a whole workforce, the countless lives saved by the system and the basic human right of access to healthcare! Yet he gets promotion and Duncan is vilified, to the point of believing that he’s a liability to the Tories’ electoral success:

“What matters most is the winning the election and David Cameron becoming the prime minister. [..] I don’t want to be a brake on that by making a difficult issue more problematic. I am very happy to get stuck into another job.”

He echoes this sentiment on Twitter too (well, if it really is him – apparently Tweetminster is “verifying” him).

Meanwhile, his replacement is being announced tomorrow.

Quick ascension and quick fall down – how classic in Tory politics.

Update: Tweetminster confirms that @AlanDuncanMP is actually fake.

Tory hypocrisy knows no bounds.

After slamming the Labour Government for courting and appointing Sir Alan Sugar as business tsar, the Tories have turned their attention to Jeremy Clarkson as as possible transport adviser.

Such an appointment is hardly compatible with the “Vote Blue Go Green” agenda is it?

Clarkson himself has accused the Tories of double standards over courting his attention and slamming the Labour Party for appointing Sir Alan.

The Tories defence has been that Clarkson would only be advising the opposition, not the governing party. That, in my mind, makes no difference whatsoever. The Tories have been the most vehement opponents of Sir Alan Sugar’s appointment as a business adviser – surely to have Jeremy Clarkson as transport tsar would be equally biased? Additionally, if the Tories win the next election, will he keep his job and act as an adviser in that particular government? The double standards are completely obvious.

The Tories may (supposedly) have shed the image of the Nasty Party, but once again their hypocrisy is apparent.

I would like to congratulate twelve Tory headbangers on their timing.

It can be said that only a particular type of Tory could do the following:

1) Attempt to undermine a piece of legislation that transformed the lives of the working class.
2) Justify this by suggesting that not being able to work for less than a set minimum is a violation of employees Human Rights!
3) Make said arguments against the Minimum Wage during a time of recession.
4) Get invited onto the Today program to defend the Bill, then withdraw the Bill, and the interview at the last minute.

These right-wing Thatcherite headbangers, all eleven of them, have given me the best laugh in days.

They did say comedy was all about timing!

In all seriousness, the Bill would not have got very far at all given it’s minimal support and the vitriol poured on it from the Left.

Silly Thatcherites. Go back to your holes and stop trying to settle old scores.